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technology is very cool

My good blogfriend Gordon Atkinson (better known as Real Live Preacher) has moved to new cyber-digs, and I'm really impressed. It's powered by Drupal, the free, open source, PHP-based content management system I recommended for the parish I used to work for (but did they listen? nope.). Because it's open source, lots of people have developed and are sharing (free!) modules to do all kinds of fabulous things, and Gordon's employed Matt Sturges, a talented PHP programmer, to take full advantage of Drupal's capabilities. I was fortunate enough to preview the site before it went live to the public, and I was already drooling. Now that it's "gone live" and I've seen it in action for a couple of days, though, I think it's fair to say that Real Live Preacher is a genuine online community, not just a blog. It had been moving in that direction for a long time -- there are few places online where so many people share so much via blog comments -- but now the technology behind it has caught up with that interpersonal dynamic, and I'm really looking forward to seeing what comes of that. Congrats, Gordon and Matt!

I've particularly enjoyed chatting with RLP readers real-time on the site, and this morning I met Keith, who's got me drooling over possibilities for using my PowerBook to compose music. I'm sorry to say that I've hardly written a thing musically over the last ten years, so it was wonderful to spend some time in our friends' wabi-sabi mountain retreat playing with GarageBand, which came free with my PowerBook G4. I got the PowerBook instead of replacing my old iBook with another one of the same lower-cost and lower line partly because I had starting using my laptop a lot to compose visuals for multi-sensory worship liturgies (like the one I describe here) I was doing with the youth groups where I worked (I was working my way up to doing similar services for all ages, including adults, when my parish position was eliminated). My iBook was starting to pose some serious limitations for what I could do liturgically, so I thought a more powerful machine was justified. But I also had hopes that when I got a computer that could handle it more easily, I'd start composing and recording music once more.

It's amazing what you can do these days using just a laptop, a good pair of headphones, and a couple of adaptors plus GarageBand. I started writing a little R&B-inflected number, I digitized a demo I recorded in analog about 15 years ago, and just for fun, I started playing with GarageBand to come up with deep-house style remixes of my old acoustic material.

And then this morning in the Real Live Preacher chat room, I met Keith, who's a composer. Now I'm completely drooling over what I could do just with a little portable MIDI controller like this and my PowerBook. Add an interface like this, and maybe an assortment of software instruments, and I think I could do ... well ... a LOT. All of these things are luxury items and out of reach at the moment (especially until I find my next job!), but I've got to say that my heart's beating a little faster at the prospect of being able to do with $1000 what you used to have to have a $15,000-plus studio to do. And thinking that way has motivated me to start writing music again, which cheers me even now.

August 3, 2005 in Music, Technology, Weblogs | Permalink


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i have a G4 but I don't have garage band. I wish I did. I wonder if it's worth upgrading? (software not computer. I'm happy with the computer)

Posted by: ppb | Aug 5, 2005 9:16:45 PM

Hey--I got the heads-up from reverendmother that you were blogging about this.

I'm going to be using that M-Audio interface at the day job, probably within the next week or two. I'm not sure what the comparative prices and features are, but don't rule out the Digidesign MBox, which comes with Pro Tools LE.

Posted by: Keith | Aug 8, 2005 10:42:48 PM

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